Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kyle Stanley looking ahead, not behind

Kyle Stanley is doing his best to move on.

The former Clemson All-American's spectacular playoff loss to Brandt Snedeker Sunday at the Farmers Insurance Open -- Stanley triple-bogeyed the 72nd hole to fall into a playoff he lost on the second hole -- was the most jarring moment of this young professional golf season.

In command of the tournament almost throughout, building what was briefly a seven-stroke lead in the final round, Stanley's collapse brought tears to his eyes Sunday when he tried to explain what happened moments after Snedeker accepted the trophy.

By Tuesday in a pre-tournament press conference prior to the Waste Management Phoenix Open, Stanley was focusing on the positives.

"I'm just overwhelmed by how much support I've gotten from people. It's been great," Stanley said.

Sunday night wasn't great, said Stanley, who finished Clemson in 2009.

He spent it with friends and family members who were in San Diego with him. He ate dinner and got some sleep but Stanley kept seeing his 80-yard third shot spin off the 18th green and into a water hazard, putting into motion his nightmarish finish. Had the ball stayed on the green -- he intentionally played a lower-lofted wedge on his third shot to minimize backspin -- Stanley would have his first PGA Tour win and a spot in the Masters.

Instead, he's another victim of the game.

"It's a crazy game," Stanley said. "It can love you. It can hate you."

A native of Gig Harbor, Wa., Stanley said among the messages he received after the tournament was one from Gonzaga basketball coach Mark Few. Though Stanley attended Clemson, he has been a lifelong Gonzaga hoops fan, watching every game he can.

Stanley has never met Few but appreciated his message.

"He just told me to keep my head up and that I played tough and that down the road I'm going to be stronger for it," Stanley said.

Tour players Zach Johnson and Steve Stricker were among those who reached out to Stanley Sunday and Monday.

"I think it's just all across the board, just words of encouragement, keep your head up, don't forget how well you played," Stanley said. "I know I may not have believed it on Sunday night or even Monday morning but everybody just keeps telling me I'll be a lot stronger for it and I agree...that I will."